Celebrating Mabel Lee’s centennial

Celebrating Mabel Lee’s centennialRidgecrest resident since 1982, Mabel Lee celebrated her 100th birthday last week, surrounding by family and friends.

You may remember her as the petite lady with an umbrella walking several miles around town each day.

She was born at home on a farm April 26, 1919, in Howell County Mo. Her father, Andrew Jackson Raney, was a veteran of WWI who loved farming. Her mother, Hazel Fern Fields Raney, was a schoolteacher. When Mabel married Willie Randles Lee, they worked farms and ranches together in Iowa, Wyoming , and other states while saving up to purchase a 60-acre farm in West Plains, Mo. Growing things and working with farm animals — can you milk a cow or a goat? She can.

Mabel and Willie had two daughters, one in 1942 (Leona Rae Lee Walker) and another in 1943 (Donna Mae Lee Baldwin).

Mabel’s first full-time job after the girls left home was at a shirt factory in Banning, with her younger brother. She operated the die cutter for several years and had to stand on a box to reach the equipment. She quit when she learned that she wasn’t being paid the same amount as men doing the same job.

When Mabel and her husband retired, they did a lot of traveling, including working at carnivals all over California. Their love of traveling took them to visit her sister in Alaska, where they spent three months. That was her favorite trip because of all the new things she got to experience. She did her first airplane ride with her nephew piloting a small float plane that was needed to go shopping. They also did house sitting, repairs and clean-ups for a Beaumont realtor/contractor until Willie died in 1982.

At one point Mabel spent a few years volunteering at the Ridgecrest Senior Citizens Center. She was a regular visitor at McDonald’s for morning coffee.

If you were to ask her what she attributes her longevity to, she’d reply, “Walking, gardening, staying active, especially playing games and puzzles along with being kind to others.” Mabel enjoys a bit of gambling and will be traveling to Laughlin to spend time with more than 20 relatives on an upcoming weekend.

— Submitted by the family of Mabel Lee

Pictured: Mabel Lee (center) sits with her daughter, Lee Walker, (left) and granddaughter, Susan Marcellino, during her 100th birthday celebration at High Desert Haven. Joining her at the table were fellow centi-genarians Opal Goode (112) and Jo Stevens (104). — Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2019-05-03